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Secretary of State Mollis Invites Public to See 'Lively" Exhibit Marking 350th Anniversary of RI's Royal Charter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis invites the public to mark the 350th anniversary of the document that gave Rhode Island religious liberty and coined the phrase "lively experiment" by visiting a free exhibit at the State Archives in July.

"A Lively Experiment: Rhode Island's Colonial Charter, 1661 – 1843" features an array of original items related to Rhode Island's Royal Charter of 1663. On display are the 1721 recorded copy of the 1643 Parliamentary Patent that preceded the Charter, remnant sections of the wax and resin Great Seal of King Charles II that was originally appended to the Charter and the legislative proceedings around the Charter's arrival in Rhode Island and its first reading to the General Assembly.

"The Charter is the source of the popular phrase 'lively experiment,'" said Mollis. "The ground-breaking document gave Rhode Island a degree of self-governance and religious liberty then unmatched in the English empire."

"A Lively Experiment" is open to the public weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the State Archives, 337 Westminster St., in downtown Providence. Free validated parking is available at the nearby In-Town Parking lot at the corner of Snow and Westminster Streets.

Among the other material on display are a published transcription of the Charter printed in England in 1719, contemporary documents written in the hands of Roger Williams and John Clarke, as well as records relating to 19th century preservation measures taken for the Charter and its eventual encasement for display in 1915.

The Charter itself is on display on the first floor at the State House in the new Charter Room, which was created as part of the 350th-anniversary observance. Among the other items on display are Roger Williams' compass and timepiece, a fragment of the document that transferred lands in Providence from the Narragansett tribe to Roger Williams and an early map of New England.

"I hope exposure to history like this will inspire Rhode Islanders and remind them of the unique treasures our office has to offer," said Mollis.

The exhibit and new Charter Room are part of a year-long 350th-anniversary celebration that also includes a panel discussion with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagen Aug. 20 and "No Person Shall Bee Anywise Molested," a conference on the role of religious tolerance Oct. 3.

Secretary of State Mollis is committed to making it easier to vote, making it easier to do business and making government more open and accessible. For more information about the events marking the 350th anniversary of the Charter, call (401) 222–2353 or visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Chris Barnett at 222-4293 #####

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  • Department or agency: Office of the Secretary of State
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  • Release date: 06-26-2013

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